I’ve been thinking a lot lately about the challenges of feeding ourselves and our children nutritional, wholesome food. All around the world, no matter what part of the planet we call home, regardless of our ethical, political, or religious beliefs, the issue of fueling our bodies with healthy food for energy and nourishment is truly a global affair and one of universal importance. And is it not the case that our health, which is so importantly linked to our eating habits, is a real and true measure of the health of our society and culture as a whole?
I always enjoyed cooking and in particular, enjoyed eating, but before I had children I never gave much thought to where my food came from. With pregnancy came a deeper awareness of my body and the things going into it. The question of my food’s journey from earth to plate became a very important one for me.
I think most people would agree that in much of the developed world, we are a part of a culture where there is a real disconnection from the raising of our food to its consumption. For most, the days of growing much of your own food, making everything from scratch, ‘putting by’ for the winter and making due with what you’ve got are long gone. These wonderful, time honoured traditions have largely been replaced by processed and prepared ‘convenience’ food. Food that is prepackaged, genetically modified, loaded with chemicals, sugar, artificial everything and exceedingly long lists of ingredients which I cannot even begin to pronounce, line our grocery store aisles. I think this is arguably the biggest reason why we as a nation are plagued with an ever increasing number of diseases such as obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and cancer - just to name a few.
It is in this critical time that the way we choose to spend our grocery money might just be the most important voice we have for change and for progress. What food we choose to buy, where and how we choose to buy it is an expression and personal declaration of our ideals and principles, and makes a statement about who and what we choose to support, and what we choose to oppose.
Personally, I’ve decided that this begins by educating myself about the origins and properties of the food I buy. Do the items on my grocery list line up with my values as a human being? Is the environment being respected? Is there fairness of trade? How were the animals treated? Does this support the local economy? I can't tell you how much joy it brings me, knowing that food I purchase at the Farmers Market, in some small way allows local farmers to work the land they have and do what they love for a living. It’s empowering to realize that the choices I make may help keep the local health food store running and support the people I share a community with.
I know that a lot of the time our food choices come down to dollars and cents. Eating organically, and when we can, locally, can be more expensive than the alternative. But by making from scratch the majority of the food that we eat, and growing as much as I can myself, I also save a lot of money. And what about the savings with respect to our social, environmental and ethical bank accounts? And most importantly, what are the costs and savings where our children’s future wellbeing is concerned? For our part, there are many times that we as a family choose to make sacrifices in our life so that our food decisions align more closely with our personal ethics. Because when it comes to the health of our families, I'm sure we all agree, it absolutely can't be bargained for.